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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dem Debates: The Perils of Feverish Factionalism

If the Democratic National Committee thinks the goal is to stage auditions for Democratic primaries and caucuses, the national debates are a great format and ought to be successful in energizing the factionalism in the party to a fever pitch en route to eventual self-immolation.

But if averting a second Trump term is the goal, the DNC had better start wondering how well the candidates in this array can audition for the entire electorate in November.  And then somehow hold open a path to the nomination until a much better sense of that broader electorate can be gained.  

Luckily, from my standpoint, hoping that Democrats soon will wake up to the peril of the first course (feverish factionalism) and the need for the second, the outcome Tuesday night seemed to be a win for Klobuchar.  She had better stay on the stage for all our sakes, and last night she made a good claim.  Mayor Pete did well, too.  And while those two picks seem to align with the consensus I gathered this morning from all the professional good pickers, I have to admit I do find Corey Booker a welcome presence and thought he did well at Debate 4.

All three of the big three are just great, of course, as was Hillary in 2016.  What Democrat wouldn’t like them each and all?  But I fear that any of the three are creating personas of self that will serve up red meat for the ravenous pit bulls to be mega-funded in the campaign to make Donald Trump not  the issue.  That kind of Republican campaign would elevate, not diminish, Klobuchar.  

And Mayor Pete is still the best voice in the Democratic field at this point.  That voice may be more important than any “platform” in shaping how Democrats can speak with success to America’s “middle” demographies of various stripes and shades.  

Doug MacDonald
Doug MacDonald
Doug MacDonald has served as chief executive in infrastructure agencies in Massachusetts (Greater Boston drinking water/wastewater) and Washington State (Secretary of Transportation, 2001-2007). His best job was fifty years ago as a rural extension agent in the Peace Corps in Malawi in southern Africa. He has written on the environment, transportation and politics for professional and general publications for many years.

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